Understanding God, through you our hopes and dreams are clarified.
A Call to Worship
Advent 3B 2014
We celebrate and give thanks for God’s generous involvement in our lives.
Amazing God, with joy we celebrate the reality of our fulfilled dreams.
We celebrate and give thanks for God’s miracles of grace and mercy.
Healing God, through you may all our tears be turned into songs of joy—
and our witness to your loving kindness be heard and seen in our living.
We celebrate and give thanks for the amazing miracles God has brought
about, through God’s faithfulness to promises made and maintained - forever. Amen.
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!
2 We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!
4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert.
5 Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.
6 They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.
Prayers of Thankfulness and Petition
Amazing God, we come together to give thanks for the many blessings
Advent 3B 2014
you have brought about in our lives as a result of your faithfulness to
your promises to us - your wayward people. Through your love for us,
you have shined a new light of hope into the dark times of our life and
living, as a group and as individual people. Through your transforming
love, you have brought into being a new hope to a defeated and brooding
community! That hope also brings with it our eager anticipation that you
will faithfully continue to bring us new joy instead of new sorrows; that you
will bring us a new vision of a better personal commitment to God, rather
than the tired and worn out attitude that has recently prevailed, which has
brought us nothing but tears and a lack of energy. With thankfulness, we
celebrate God’s miracles of grace that has filled our hearts with laughter.
Healing God, we your people who know the threat and reality of drought,
and all it does to the good earth and all its inhabitants, we give thanks for
the imagery in this psalm of waters replenishing deserts, and giving them
new hope and new life. “...For nothing, nothing is impossible to our God.
The barren desert will bloom, dry river beds will gush with water, the wilderness
become a ready path… For nothing, nothing is impossible to our God….1
Help each of us to maintain a vibrant faith in our renewing God, who works
great miracles and brings vision and hope into people’s hearts and minds.
God of the planting and God of the harvest, we come together to share in
the changes that life brings to us, and to acknowledge our dependence on
our Creating God, who renews and restores broken down lives and hopes.
We give thanks for the way God has acted in the past to bring about renewal
when all hope had gone; for the way God has blessed and guided the faithful
ones who never lost hope in their Transforming God; and who through their
belief in their God, were finally able to joyfully sing as they returned “...with
the harvest…” O God, we ask, that the promise of your presence with us will
be kept vividly alive in our minds, our hearts, and in our daily living and witness. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
“Brokenness” of heart, mind, spirit and/or body for an individual can be a
Advent 3B 2014
shattering experience! It is even more so when it is a group, a community
or even a congregation that shatters, along with all that was/is held dear to
its participants. Everything that is dear to anyone is affected and is seen
through life’s-lens as being totally disastrous. Individuals or the “gathered
people” can lose their focus on everything else except their own “disaster”!
People’s thoughts turn inwards so that they become immersed in themselves
and their own pain and grief, without being able to recognise the grief others
are feeling. The people of Israel had known just such pain and heartache,
many times over - and they often needed their memory sharply “pricked” about
past similar events; and so once again, they would turn to YHWH/Yahweh/
Jehovah for help, and then rediscovered their joy in praising, thanking and
worshipping their God. Although the memory of that pain can linger and its
power remain a dark shadow in life - God’s grace can bring its own healing!
|Creative pause:||Rediscovering the joy of worshipping God, the Holy One.|
There are two separate sections to Psalm 126 - the first section is a song of
joy: “When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy...” The memory of that defining
and miraculous event for Israel became for them a promise for one or more
future acts of God’s deliverance. So with confidence they sang: “... Yes, the
Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!...” Then came their request
based on their past experiences of God: “...Restore our fortunes, Lord, as
streams renew the desert...” They knew the impact that “desert” experiences
have on people’s hearts, minds and spirits! Then came the absolute reversal—
thanks be to our Great God! “...Those who plant in tears will harvest with
shouts of joy… they sing as they return with the harvest....” Their harvest
is gathered and their future as a people and nation under God is again assured!
|Creative pause:||“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy…”|
Sister Monica Brown is the author/composer of the words used in the prayer
“...For nothing, nothing is impossible to our God. The barren desert will bloom,
dry river beds will gush with water, the wilderness become a ready path. For
nothing, nothing is impossible to our God….1 Sister Monica is an Australian
Oblate of the Good Samaritan Congregation, whose religious formation took
place within the Benedictine tradition. I struggled to determine which of Sister
Monica’s songs I would use as a quotation, as she seems to have a special
affinity with the Old Testament prophesies that offer hope and promise joy in
the fellowship of being God’s servant and follower. Her music and singing is
inspirational and really speaks to my heart. The CD that includes these words
is “Comfort my people”; and it also includes these memorable words: “A cry
is heard in the wilderness, in hearts that yearn for the desert rains, how long,
O God, how long must we wait to see your face and live?... Come down to us,
O God, comfort your people, come, be with us….”2 I give thanks for Sister
Monica’s special gifts and unique ministry bringing blessings around the world.
|Creative pause:||“For nothing, nothing is impossible to our God….”1|
Both songs from “Comfort My People” CD
1 “For nothing is impossible to God”
2 “A cry is heard in the wilderness, (Tear the heavens asunder)
All words and music by Sister Monica Brown
© 2002 Monica Brown & Emmaus Productions
Used with personal permission.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,
copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
*Revised Indexing Scheme from 'Consultation on Church Union' (COCU).
I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the writings of
Professor Walter Brueggemann; and through the resources from the internet and “The Text this Week” (Textweek).
If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2014 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year B. Used with permission.
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